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CSA Furnace Certification

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When getting ready to sign on the dotted line for your new furnace installation, it is easy to glaze over the alphabet soup of HVAC terminology your contractor might have included. Between high-efficiency, ENERGY STAR™, UL, and BTUs, what's a consumer to make of EST, CSA and ANSI? If your new furnace comes with a CSA seal of approval, read on to learn what it means.

How Certification Works

The CSA Group is an independent, international product certification company. They work with a wide range of products including HVAC appliances, but also including products such as musical instruments and raceway fittings. Certification is a three-step process that involves three separate entities:

  1. Independent standards organizations such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) develop safety and performance standards for products that are sometimes voluntary and sometimes adopted into law.
  2. Product manufacturers design and produce products that they believe meet their industry standards.
  3. Accredited testing organizations such as CSA evaluate samples of the product according to the standards and verify compliance by allowing the use of their mark or seal. In the United States, certification companies are regulated by OSHA, the government's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

CSA Group certifies both oil and gas powered furnaces in the United States and Canada. When they test, they assume that products are installed according to the manufacturer's directions and that all building codes are met. While CSA International certification indicates greater reliability and safety than products that don't meet the relevant standards, John Gorman, Technical Advisor Oil and Gas at CSA International cautions that "a certified furnace that has been produced in accordance with its certification that is not properly installed can result in an unsafe condition." Homeowners looking for the extra safety and reliability implied by CSA certification should also ensure their new furnace is installed by an experienced contractor and inspected against local building codes.

What Standards Apply to Furnaces?

Gas furnaces in both the United States and Canada must meet the ANSI Z21.47/CSA 2.3 standard for certification. Oil furnaces in the United States must meet the UL 727 standard, while oil furnaces in Canada must meet CSA B140.4. Each of these standards has strict requirements for a variety of product features related to safety, emissions, energy efficiency, and other aspects of construction and design. For example, UL 727 outlines detailed requirements for mounting of electrical components, overcurrent protections, short circuit protections, materials allowed in air-handling compartments, radiation shielding, air filters, casing construction and materials, and many more elements of oil furnaces.

Once a product is manufactured, it is tested in either a CSA International laboratory or in a laboratory at the manufacturer that CSA has accredited for testing. Most testing is related to safety. Emissions from flues must be below the stated maximum levels. The heat generated by the furnace is tested to ensure internal components are not overheated and that combustible surfaces surrounding the furnace won't ignite. Burner performance and the speed of ignition are also evaluated for safety. In addition to these safety issues, any minimum requirements related to the temperature of air exiting the furnace are checked.

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